Red, White and Blue – Viking Line

The dark blue waters of the Baltic are brightened up by the red and white of Viking Line’s many crossings to Tallinn and Stockholm this summer. To liven up their regular timetable, they’ve gone as far as renting a catamaran which will be in operation until the end of October 2017. Besides FSTR or ‘Faster’, the aptly named aforementioned vessel, two of their other cruisers viz. the Mariella and Gabriella will also be called on to ply the heavy traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn together with their regular ship XPRS.

While there’s plenty of competition out there, Viking Line has always tried to stay ahead of the game with their friendly service, good food and cheap prices. The FSTR catamaran gets you from Helsinki to Tallinn in an hour and 45 minutes and is big enough to carry 835 passengers and 120 cars making it operational in all kinds of weather. The focus is on seating with airline-type loungers for everyone. The bar and cafeteria on board make sure that no one goes hungry or thirsty and for an extra fee, a hot breakfast or supper with beer and wine are available in the Club Lounge where the standard of service and products are of exceptional quality.

Viking XPRS is a little bigger with a 2500 passenger capacity taking a little longer. The two and a half hours on board can be spent singing karaoke, dancing to a live band, dining in one of the many restaurants, shopping at reduced prices or watching your kids play in the designated area. The Bistro Buffet is the most popular choice since the selection is vast and even pernickety eaters can find something they like here. Beer and wine are on tap. But for something a little more upmarket, Wine & Dine has white linen on the tables and service with lots of smiles is effortless. A 3-course meal sets you back around €38. Get into celebratory mood with a glass of Charles Heidsieck champagne at €8, a steal anywhere on the planet.

Kumu Art Museum in Kadriorg Park, Tallinn

Some hours in Tallinn can be combined with the Viking Line ticket and there are all kinds of options for all ages to keep the group happy. The Old Town always presents a photo opportunity with its architecture and colourful buildings. The Seaplane Harbour is a mecca for anyone interested in boats and sea craft, a real hands-on place where the most reluctant of museum-goer will dive into the activities. The Tele Tower is a futuristic experience with a 3-D movie to start your journey before your snappy elevator ride to the top floor where the view literally takes your breath away looking out over the city and down through the ‘hole’ in the floor. Kumu Art Museum is housed in a spectacular modern building with art treasures covering the period from the beginning of the 18thC until the end of World War II. Temporary exhibitions showcase Estonian and international artists and the performance schedule is choc-a-bloc. Besides, the walk through the immaculate Kadriorg Park to get there is a treat all on its own and there are many other museums to visit on the way.

Dinner aboard Viking Line’s XPRS at the Wine and Dine Restaurant

If time is not at a premium, staying overnight in Tallinn is reasonably priced especially when you book it with your Viking Line crossing. Budget to luxury are all within a price range that won’t bring tears to your eyes.

Here are the links to Viking Line’s timetables and ways you can spend your day in Tallinn:

https://www.sales.vikingline.com/

https://www.visittallinn.ee/eng

Amazing M/S Grace – cruising the Baltic

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Gracing the Seas

Ice hockey, Formula 1, classical music, computer games, the Finns have a knack for fostering talent among its 5 million inhabitants. The shipping industry has not been left behind in this quest for excellence and indeed, has reached new heights of achievement in the ferries that are cutting their way through the Baltic Sea in 2013.

Green Groundbreaker

Viking Line’s brand new M/S Grace, in all its majestic stature, is a groundbreaking vessel from the STX Finland boatyard.  Project leader Kari Granberg reports, “Our goal has been to find the best possible environmental solutions and that has lead other leaders in the field such as Royal Carribbean Lines and Carnival Lines, to visit the boatyard during construction and book another meeting in the near future.” It’s the first passenger ship that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) for fuel, thereby reducing nitrogen exhausts and particles by 85% and greenhouse gases by 15% while the sulphur exhaust level is practically zero. The Baltic Sea is a heavily trafficked stretch of water and hence, is in a highly delicate state. Grace moves quietly and gently through this sensitive archipelago minimizing wave and noise formation by means of its hydrodynamic hull and STX Finland’s patented Wave Damping Afterbody technology. Seawater is purified and recycled while windows with high insulation capacity contain heat and create energy efficiency. The restaurants and the kitchens utilize a GEM system that lowers energy by 20% and no aspect of recycling, reusing and optimization of resources has been left out.

Cruising without Conscience

‘Grace’ does her name justice. In keeping with its Scandinavian roots, it’s a gracious vessel with not a hint of garishness or vulgarity, using clean, natural colours on floors and walls while emphasis has been placed on mood lighting that changes colour according to the time of day and features that are reminiscent of the spectacular Finnish archipelago outside. The light and scenery pour in through the profusion of large windows and one can only muse at the genius of designers Vertti Kivi & Co. “We chose them because they came with fresh ideas, new ways of looking at the interiors of ships, inviting the view to come inside,” Taru Kauppinen, product manager, explains.

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All palates and wallet sizes have been catered for. From the cosy Frank’s Casual Diningto the elegance and splendor of Oscar’s and everything in between, it’s all there for the gourmet, wine connoisseur, burger lover and famished family. Locally produced ingredients are used and bottled water comes in recyclable plastic.  Nightclubs and dance venues abound with sound and light technology that is the best in the field. You can practice your moves to the schlager sounds at Café Retro, get in step with the talented Elixir Show Band from Hungary at Club Vogue, jiggle your hips at the Rockmore Bar where they invite you to dance on the tables if the mood should take you! And when it’s time to take a break and have a quiet glass of champagne in the Seamore Bar, you’ll be soothed by the soft tones of piano music.

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Pampering yourself is what cruising’s all about and the spa and wellness area realigns your body and mood by offering a huge range of treatments using biodynamic products. Jacuzzis are flush with the windows, once again pulling in that jaw-dropping view of the islands. Since you’re in Finland, you can’t miss out on the special snow cave for just a taste of what winter might be like. And if it’s the kids you’re worrying about, don’t! They have thought of everything and provide 3 play areas for babies to teenagers, all well equipped with baby-sitters and cutting edge games. To round off the entire luscious experience, the biggest floating duty-free shopping mall is at your service, sporting brand-name clothing, booze, food, candy and yes, you’ve guessed it, cosmetics and perfumes galore.

This is unequivocally the greenest, most eco-friendly passenger ship on the seas to date. Revive your spirit in full knowledge of the fact that everything’s been done to maintain your sustainable lifestyle. Viking Line’s Grace operates between Turku Harbour and Stockholm with crossings departing every evening at 9 pm returning at 7.50 pm. Bookings can be made